MX23RW : Saturday, July 31 22:01:21| >> :600:4840446:4840446:
Jun 6, 2021 at 6pm UK at Ullevaal Stadion
NorwayNorway
1-2
GreeceGreece
FT(HT: 0-2)
Masouras (13'), Apostolopoulos (21')

Preview: Norway vs. Greece - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's International Friendlies clash between Norway and Greece, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Norway and Greece will both be aiming to round off the international period on a positive note when they lock horns at La Rosaleda Stadium in Spain for Sunday's friendly clash.

Stale Solbakken's side enjoyed a 1-0 victory over Luxembourg in midweek, while Greece produced a resilient showing to hold the world's number-one ranked side Belgium to a 1-1 draw.


Match preview

Norway coach Stale Solbakken pictured on March 27, 2021© Reuters

Norway's long and agonising wait for another appearance at a major tournament continues, but Solbakken has certainly made a positive start to life in the dugout, claiming three wins and three clean sheets from four games in charge thus far.

The Scandinavian nation came so close yet so far in qualification for Euro 2020 under Lars Lagerback, who witnessed his native Sweden make the final tournament ahead of their neighbours Norway, but it was not exactly a performance worthy of a place in a major tournament from the Lions against Luxembourg.

None other than Erling Braut Haaland would end up scoring the decisive goal against Luxembourg, although it took over 90 minutes for the Borussia Dortmund man to make the net ripple, but that strike ended a four-game national drought for one of the most sought-after players in world football.

Ahead of a defining World Cup qualification period in the autumn and winter months, Norway could do with a morale-boosting performance against a side ranked nine places below them in Greece, as attempting to usurp either Turkey or the Netherlands to one of the top two spots in Group G is no mean feat.

The Lions will not reconvene for another three months after their encounter with Greece on Sunday, but Haaland himself has admitted that his side's performance against 96th-ranked Luxembourg was not good enough, and a fired-up Greece are sure to capitalise on any complacent performances within Solbakken's ranks here.

John van 't Schip in charge of Greece in September 2020© Reuters

Had Belgium been able to field a team with the likes of Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne firing on all cylinders, Greece would have been in for a much rougher ride against the world's top-ranked nation, but John van 't Schip's men instead kept their remarkable unbeaten streak going with a 1-1 draw against the Red Devils.

A sweeping move down the left-hand side saw Yannick Carrasco and Thorgan Hazard combine for the latter to open the scoring on the 20-minute mark, but veteran defender Georgios Tzavellas levelled for Greece after 66 minutes for the second most impressive result of Van 't Schip's reign so far - after a 1-1 draw with Spain in World Cup qualifying, of course.

The former Netherlands international paid the price for a slow start to European Championship qualifying, but Greece have only suffered three defeats in 18 games under his tutelage, and the 2004 European champions could now stretch their unbeaten run to 10 matches should they avoid defeat against Norway.

Four of their last five have ended with the spoils shared - a testament to their defensive resilience but a sometimes toothless attack - including both of their games in qualification for Qatar 2022 so far, so the importance of returning to winning ways against Norway cannot be underestimated before they attempt to return to the biggest stage of them all.

Furthermore, Greece are unbeaten in their last four encounters with Norway - winning three of them - and the most recent battle between the two sides in a 2012 friendly ended in a 3-2 success for the Sky Blues and Whites.

Norway International Friendlies form:
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Norway form (all competitions):
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W

Greece International Friendlies form:
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • D

Greece form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • D



Team News

Norway's Erling Haaland looks dejected during the match on March 27, 2021© Reuters

Everton forward Joshua King was originally due to link up with the Norway squad for June's friendlies, but the striker's hamstring problem will prevent him from competing with Alexander Sorloth for the chance to partner Haaland up top.

The Lions picked up no fresh injury concerns following the win over Luxembourg and are unlikely to make significant alterations for this game, despite their somewhat lacklustre performance on Wednesday.

Substitute Kristian Thorstvedt provided the assist for Haaland's winner last time out, but Solbakken ought to continue with the midfield pairing of Morten Thorsby and captain Martin Odegaard.

Meanwhile, Greece have no need to fix what is not broken following an impressive draw with Belgium, and an identical XI could see two Premier League left-backs in Kostas Tsimikas of Liverpool and Norwich City's Dimitrios Giannoulis bombing down the same side.

Tzavellas's goal in midweek should see him keep Arsenal protege Dinos Mavropanos out of the team, but Zeca and Petros Mantalos could freshen up the midfield should Van 't Schip see the need to give some players a rest.

Norway possible starting lineup:
Hansen; Svensson, Strandberg, Ajer, Meling; Elyounoussi, Odegaard, Thorsby, Hauge; Haaland, Sorloth

Greece possible starting lineup:
Vlachodimos; Androutsos, Papadopoulos, Tzavellas, Tsimikas; Bouchalakis, Galanopoulos; Masouras, Bakasetas, Giannoulis; Pavlidis


SM words green background

We say: Norway 1-2 Greece

The likes of Haaland, Odegaard and Sorloth always carry a goal threat for Norway, but having struggled to break down Luxembourg, a clash with Greece and their newfound dogged defence is hardly cause for optimism.

Solbakken's side should still have enough about them to find the back of the net, but we can envisage another strong showing from Greece as Van 't Schip's unbeaten run continues with a narrow success.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data


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Sunday's key events


GOLF
· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

CYCLING - BMX
· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

SWIMMING
· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

BOXING
· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

TENNIS
· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

SAILING
· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

ATHLETICS
· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

HOCKEY
· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

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